Capacity cuts fail to reverse sliding freight rates
THE drastic capacity cuts in the containership industry, which have resulted in the size of the idle global containership fleet hitting a five-year high with one million Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit (TEU) has failed to tackle the problem of slumping freight rates.
In an effort to restore the balance between supply and demand shipping lines have been removing capacity on most of the main trade routes, with the Asia to Europe trade lane seeing the most drastic cuts.
Of the 21 strings operated by the four main carrier alliances in the Far East to North Europe trade, two have been removed by the ‘Ocean 3’ and 2M alliances. The G6 and CKYHE have removed nine and five sailings respectively in November and December, the Hellenic Shipping News reported quoting data from Alphaliner.
The drastic capacity cuts, however, have been insufficient to reverse the slump in freight rates. Spot rates from Shanghai to North Europe declined to $409 per TEU last week according to the SCFI. Furthermore, shipping lines have not managed to retain most of the rate gains from the November 1 general rate increase (GRI), which ranged from $750 to $1,200 per TEU.
Despite cutting the number of weekly sailings by 3.8 strings in the fourth quarter, the capacity reduction on the Far East to North Europe route is only one per cent lower year on year.
The average size of ships deployed on this trade has risen from 12,000 TEU a year ago to 14,000 TEU at present. Last year, only one container line service offered a weekly capacity in excess of 17,000 TEU, now there are four such strings on the Asia to Europe trade lane.
Meanwhile, Containership reliability took a small step backwards in October as the average on-time performance across all trades reached 77.9%, according to Carrier Performance Insight, the online schedule reliability tool provided by Drewry Supply Chain Advisors.
According to Maritime News, the latest result is based on reliability across 10 deep-sea container trades, instead of the three East-West trades as was previously measured up to and including September 2015, when the aggregate on-time result was 79.9%.
The expanded coverage is part of an upgrade to Drewry’s Carrier Performance Insight, which now covers 69 ports and 809 port pairs, and also includes new functionality to download data from the monthly release in both Excel and PDF formats.
The on-time result for the East-West trades came in at 77.3% in October, while our first aggregate result for the seven North-South routes was slightly better at 79.1%.
In the East-West category, October saw worse performances in the Transpacific, which declined by 3.5 percentage points against September to 75.1%, while in the Asia-Europe trade reliability dropped by 3.0 points to 78.2%. On the plus side, reliability on the Transatlantic rose by 12 points in October to a series-high of 84.0%.
The most punctual of the “North-South” trades in October was the Asia-South Asia route with an on-time performance of 87.8%, while the tardiest was the Asia-Africa route that saw only 68.4% of voyages arrive as scheduled.
Delays in transiting the Panama Canal may have hindered reliability of Transpacific all-water services between Asia and the US East Coast, while in Asia-Europe the suspension of a couple of services and blank voyages will not have aided smooth operations,” said Simon Heaney, senior manager of supply chain research at Drewry.
“We expected to see a decline in reliability as the container industry enters the slack fourth quarter, but it is encouraging to see that it was only marginal,” added Heaney. “It is also welcome news that reliability appears to be of equal standards in both the East-West and North-South routes. We expect the slowing reliability trend to continue through to the early months of next year, but it will remain above historical performances.”
Two carriers shared the top of the carrier reliability rankings in October with K Line and Evergreen of the CKYH Alliance both scoring on-time performances of 85.7%. At the bottom of the pile were MSC who recorded an average of 52.4% in the month. The trend towards more carriers improving their reliability was once again evident as 16 of the 19 carriers tracked scored at least 75% in October.
Building on Drewry’s long established schedule reliability benchmarking that started back in 2005, the new Carrier Performance Insight provides the ability to benchmark the reliability performance of container carriers on a port-to-port, trade lane, service and industry-wide basis. This information is available via a user-friendly website powered by data from global shipment management software solutions provider CargoSmart.